Dangers of the metaverse: how the gap between the avatar and our real appearance will affect our mental health
This article was originally published in the January 2023 issue of Vogue Spain.
While art, technology and the cosmetic universe launches to conquer the metaverse –a network of spaces where the limits between the physical and the digital are diluted–, its consumers face the possibility of profiling alter ego virtual, with the consequent impact for your personal expression; the great danger of the metaverse for our mental health. Most people still don’t know what is the metaverseand the subject matter expert Matthew Ball He believes that its full development is decades away, but many of its basic components are already in place, such as the virtual and augmented reality technology that cosmetic doctors and surgeons work with, as well as their centers. An example? Last October, the Clinique des Champs-Élysées (a renowned French clinic using the technology of InMode) held the first event dedicated to medical wellness in the metaverse. However, the doctors warn of the dangers of the metaverse that lie in wait for the patient in the other dimension.
How will cosmetic medicine and surgery change?
According to doctor jonquille chantrey –British spokesperson for the lab Allergan–, the metaverse offers two great opportunities for aesthetic medicine, in the field of education and experience. “Virtual spaces, clinics and consultations can be developed where the patient will be present, while experts will have access to learn more about specific and personalized treatments. There will be a lot of information”, he predicts regarding the first area. In the other sense, it will be fundamental “in terms of experience and environment. One of the catalysts for trends (as well as a trend itself) will be extended experience. Patients will be able to access the clinic from the comfort of their home; feeling more secure, having more options and talking to different centers. It’s almost like doing virtual medical tourisma key trend in recent years”, adds the expert.
The doctor daniel rosadoa specialist in sports traumatology and aesthetic medicine, reveals that the experience in these metaclinics could be almost as complete as in the physical world: “Thanks to an aesthetic image with a high percentage of resemblance to the patient, it is possible to anticipate treatment results (with a margin of error of 15%); this, in turn, would help to draw a better diagnosis because the recreation could be very close to that of the treatment”. In the words of Chantrey, “everything will depend on the increase in technology”, but he predicts an overall improvement in the way people work in aesthetic medicine: “From a 3D perspective, we will be able to predict the possible evolution of your bones and fat with fillers [como el ácido hialurónico]as well as his skin.
On the other hand, the doctor Francisco Bravomember of the AECEP (Spanish Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery), considers that the greatest advantage of the metaverse for the plastic surgeon will be “the possibility of better understand patients and help them with their real decisions. These technologies and platforms really allow them to effectively visualize different versions of themselves, making it easier to communicate with the doctor. From there, the plastic surgeon will have to evaluate if what he aspires to is convenient or feasible”. According to his experience, the use of filters already has clinical impact, “and that’s similar to human projection in the form of an avatar,” he explains. “Although the patient must distinguish the virtual plane from the physical, there is often a desire to translate his concerns into the real world, and the surgeon can draw many conclusions from the avatar. It is something that we will have to evaluate and understand very well as doctors, ”says the doctor, who is consulting at the Gómez Bravo clinic in Madrid.
Psychological consequences of the metaverse
What impact will the creation of a alter ego virtual by the consumer? As indicated above, doctors agree on its benefits for people who are shy or have difficulty expressing themselves, who will communicate better through the avatar. “However, as a healthcare professional, I think about his state of mind. The digital lens has already caused some challenges for those who feel their physique is under scrutiny in video calls or warn a big difference between your ideal self (how you imagine) and your true self”, detects Dr. Chantrey. In fact, Allergan’s latest trend report highlights that one of the main reasons people go to beauty clinics is to see photos of themselves.
For this reason, the aesthetic doctor acknowledges the enormous concern about the dangers of the metaverse for the mental health of consumers (that is, its physical analogues). As she points out, “it is good to live in the current space in 3D, seasoned with the support of a virtual reality system and use tools that represent us in this area; but then we face physical reality, people we actually know, and discover a huge gap between our avatar and our real appearance. The risk is in the avatar as an expression of oneself”, adds the doctor. Although it may seem distant, it is a problem already as widespread as the apps photo retouching.